The University of Nottingham (UoN) and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) shared the honours in the Varsity basketball event, with the UoN Ladies winning and the UoN Men’s being narrowly defeated in a scintillating game at the Motorpoint Arena.
The UoN Ladies started sluggishly against NTU, but managed to bring it back and end with a comfortable victory, while the men’s, after holding an 8-point lead with 4 minutes to go, could not close out the game as Trent won a frantic game by just 2 points.
UoN Ladies show their quality:
It was a shaky start by the UoN Women’s Basketball Team, going 4-0 and 6-2 down early in the 1st quarter as they failed to find any sort of rhythm. Both teams were guilty of wasting good positions early on, and as NTU continued to hold a 3-point gap going into the end of the 1st quarter, the UoN girls snuck in two free throws to reduce the arrears to just one going into the 2nd quarter.
NTU again stretching their lead, as every time UoN scored, NTU managed to nick two points back, meaning that the gap remained two points at the end of the half, at 22-20 Trent.
However, in the 2nd quarter, Women Of The Match Jimyse Brown had begun to show her quality, barging her way to the basket a number of times, and in the 3rd quarter she came to the fore, as UoN blitz NTU and showed just why there is a league difference between the two teams.
After trading blows with NTU for the first 5 minutes of the 3rd, the UoN girls turned on the style, Brown in particular, as UoN went in 40-34 going into the final quarter.
That 6-point lead was quickly 12 as UoN sank two 3-pointers in the first 40 second of the 4th quarter to leave NTU a mountain to climb.
Despite a spirited fightback from NTU, in which the arrears were reduced to 8 points at 46-38, when Jimyse Brown helped herself to 4 more points, the lead was 12 again, and with it went NTU’s last chance at the game.
Emma Lucas, the captain, rounded off the win with the final score as UoN ran our 57-43 winners, to take the first point of the Varsity 2016 series.
UoN Men’s lacking intensity and duly punished:
A frantic and frenetic start to the men’s game set the tone for the rest of the game as NTU came firing out of the blocks and raced into a 4-0 lead, before UoN struck back to lead 7-6 after just 4 minutes.
With the crowd much larger for the men’s than the women’s game, and every miss jeered by the partisan crowd, the players could be forgiven for displaying some nerves at the start of the game.
A breathless first quarter finally ended with Trent leading 22-18, after coming back from a 14-10 deficit halfway through the 1st quarter, as UoN struggled to maintain their intensity through the quarter.
The energy of the crowd from the UoN side seemed to channel that of the players, as the crowd went slightly flat in the 2nd quarter; UoN managed to bring the game back level at 31-all however, and appeared to be in the ascendancy going into halftime 40-37 up after a storming 2nd quarter.
When UoN started the 3rd quarter as they had finished the second, NTU were struggling to stay within touching distance with them, with NTU grabbing two free throws as UoN missed two of their own to bring the gap back down to 2 points at 46-44.
NTU’s attacking play off of the rebound allowed them to retake the lead at 47-46, but UoN managed to pull back ahead after Kasinopoulos broke for an easy two, with UoN going into the final quarter with a 3-point lead to protect, at 52-49.
NTU regained the lead early in the final quarter, but UoN turned on the style yet again to bail themselves out, and when Kasinopolous helped himself to a 3-pointer to make it an 8-point lead for UoN, a few fans would have been forgiven for thinking that the game was won, with just 4 minutes to go.
The next four minutes must have lasted about 20 minutes, as both teams were guilty of some indiscipline, but NTU came right back at UoN, and when they struck with 5 points in quick succession, the lead was suddenly NTU’s again, at 70-67.
UoN had the chance to retake the lead from the free-throw line, but when only one went down it was all square with a minute to play at 72-72.
In a scarcely believable final minute, Trent hit two to retake the lead, UoN hit one free-throw to make the gap just one point, before another foul allowed NTU to hit two free’s of their own, with UoN needing three points to level the game.
A technical foul by NTU gave UoN the chance at winning the game; despite just one of the free’s missing, UoN had possession and needing a score to level the game, with a 3-pointer winning it.
Trent, however, survived, and brought up their first men’s basketball Varsity victory since 2011.
Spectators and Varsity the real winners:
In all honesty, the final game going to Trent did not take too much away from what had been a fantastic night of student sport, and entertainment as a whole. The Nottingham Knights and Trent Tigers’ cheerleading squads put on two fantastic shows at half-time in the men’s game, while the Sports’ Officer free-throw competition arguably grew some of the loudest cheers of the night (which James Bramley won, I might add).
For an event that has struggled to sell enough tickets in recent years, nights such as this will help to prove just how worthwhile it is for fans to come and watch, and is a great experience for any of the players involved.
UoN Women’s Basketball Team Roster:
Carlota de Mergelina
Men’s Basketball Team Roster:
Words by Connor Higgs
Image: IMPACT Images Team
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